ECHOES, PATIENCE, SILENCE AND GRACE (Doreen Nkatha):
Once upon a time I thought I had fallen in love.. I truly genuinely believed I was head over heels in love. He was a scrawny looking twenty-two year old who had no fashion sense whatsoever. His signature blue jeans were always characterized in brown patches of dirt, though when in luck you’d spot dark patches of grease which were virtually inexplicable considering he was an airtime sales person. He was always in an over-sized, Christmas-looking, multicolored, hand knit wool sweater whether it was raining cats and dogs or the Kalahari desert sun was blazing high in the sky. It was his ‘signature look’. Personal hygiene was a foreign concept to him all together. The pungent odor that emitted off him could be liked to that of tear gas. In the beginning when I spent the day with him my evening were usually characterized by pounding headaches. Adding insult to injury, the situation with his feet was not any different. The overpowering stench that emanated from his feet any time he dared remove his shoes threatened the olfactory senses of anyone within a fifteen mile radius. At the beginning all this things irritated me senseless. I dreaded his offer to come visit me at home because he always left our carpet and our seat pillows saturated with his odor. They say ‘love’ is blind but in my case it also included a blocked nose along with its madness. But despite all this I was by his side daily.
His small Chinese like eyes always had my heart palpating. And whenever he kissed me a feeling of warmth spread through my whole body. The terms ‘baby’ and ‘sweetie’ would have me smiling like a mindless idiot all day. I let myself go. My high self esteem that had always been of great value to me faded into oblivion. My dignity was mercilessly stripped away from me as my identity was slowly but surely replaced. My faith which I had always held very close to my heart slowly disintegrated and eventually turned to ash. My life virtually became all about him. I’d wake up in the morning and the first thing I’d do was think of him. Then I’d text him and get up and prepare myself and leave the house in the pretense of going to school when I was really going to see him. Then he and I would be back home in the afternoon watching movies…then some alone time before he left. Then I was alone
till he arrived home then he would call and we would talk till it was time to go to bed. Then the next day we would repeat the routine again. My topics of discussion always had him as the subject. ‘last night, my baby said….blah blah blah’ or ‘my baby thinks I should wear my blue jeans today with my white t-shirt’. As time went on he slowly became my identity. I couldn’t do anything without consulting or informing him. He became an idol to me. And I faithfully and wholeheartedly worshipped him. My family and friends faded into the background. As long as he wasn’t involved I wasn’t interested. . He was my whole world. I was addicted. I was strung out. And it was pathetic.
Then one day it ended and my world came crashing down all around me.
I was hurting, confused and more lost than I’d ever known was possible. There was darkness in my life that just seemed to follow me everywhere. Everything was falling apart and I didn’t know how to cope. I disconnected from reality and wallowed in myself pity. I had pushed everyone away and so I had no shoulder to cry on and no friend to comfort me. So, out of habit and necessity, I run back to the one person I had been dependant on. Instead of comfort he patronized me for my weakness, insult me on my addiction to him and make it a lot worse. It seemed like he drew some kind of sick pleasure from seeing me squirming and so he continued delivering the punches and kicks even when I on the ground with no where lower to sink.
I was emotionally blue and black from the abuse. I could hide the damage from everyone around me but I had no escape. It gnawed at my conscience, I lost the joy in my laughter and the twinkle in my eye diminished eventually. I was an empty shell. All that kept me going were the ideas of how I was going to end the pain and agony I was in. End it all. I contemplated jumping in front of a moving bus… but I couldn’t seem to master the energy to move. I mixed car battery liquid with cleaning bleach and other poisonous liquids planning to ingest them…but a whiff of the mixture was pungent enough to send me vomiting all afternoon. Finally I decided how I was going to do it. I had made up my mind that a drug overdose on sleeping pills would be the way to take myself out of my misery. I thought it would be simple, painless and peaceful.
I woke up two hours later at Nairobi hospital with my stomach pumped of the sleeping pills I’d been sure were my salvation from the gut wrenching pain. I was groggy and numb and then slowly the realization that I had failed dawned on me and I panicked. I believed that I couldn’t handle the pain any longer and my failure to end it all felt like a life sentence to the eternal fire of hell. Gripped by desperation I started crying, which eventually graduated to loud wails of despair. I wanted out. I needed out. Desperately.
They sedated me. And I fell into a dreamless sleep.
When I woke up everyone was there. Looking at me curiously. I couldn’t hide my pain anymore. It was there, displayed for the whole world to see. Everyone made it their business, trying their damnest to comfort me. Asking questions and expecting answers that I didn’t have. But they persisted and so I gave answers that would stop the questionings. And eventually they stopped. But my business became everyone’s business. I became the communities chore; everyone had made it their duty to be my keeper. Everyone was watching me with hawk ayes. Every second of every hour of Every day. Someone was watching.
Four years down the line, I’m still here. Filled with so much joy it oozes from the pores of my skin. I have a bounce in my step, a twinkle in my eye and a boisterous laughter to accompany all the joy I posses. I was able to rediscover the basic ingredients to true happiness. God, family and friends. It’s that simple! Sometimes it’s easier to feel like you’re the only one in the world who’s struggling, who’s frustrated, unsatisfied or barely getting by but that feeling is a lie and if you just hold on. Just find the courage to face it all another day, someone or something will find you and make it all OK because we all need a little help sometimes. Someone to help us hear the music in the world. To remind us it won’t always be this way. That someone is out there and that some will find you. I can’t really explain how or what I did to where I am today, because for a long time the depression and loneliness were my constant companions. But my zeal to reposes my identity and to rebuild my self confidence and my self-dignity overcame the pain and loneliness and feelings of worthlessness. And I did.
when we were in school the teacher taught and taught and taught all term long. It was your responsibility to listen and understand what he was teaching. The irony is after so much talk talk talk during exams the teacher is usually as quiet as a church mouse. Same thing with God. During your periods of trials and temptations all he can do is hope that after all the prayer meetings, bible study sessions, church services and all the advice available in the 66 books in the bible you at least learnt something of importance that will give you the strength to hold on through the treacherous storm.
I grew up in a society where failure was frowned upon. It was never a subject of discussion unless you were being scolded. But my failure to succeed in committing suicide is a failure I am definitely proud of. I believe our experiences in our lives shape and mould our character and determine who you become in the society. I’m not perfect. I still go through the ups and downs of life. Only difference is I have grown wiser. And I learn from each of my experiences. I know not to put my trust in man but in my Lord and I am assured of an unyielding support from my faith in the Lord, and from family and friends and I know with a firm certainty that after every storm there is an assurance of a breathtakingly beautiful rainbow that will brighten my clear blue skies.
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